Once you have been working in Taiwan for a while, you may decide to study Chinese. If that’s you, congratulations! Making the decision to start studying Chinese is the hardest part, believe me.
There are a few ways you could go about learning Chinese. The three ways you could study Chinese: take a class, hire a tutor or do a language exchange.
It’s true you could learn by yourself but I find having a teacher of some sort helps push me to study harder. If you are self-motivated, then you could buy a book and try to study by yourself.
1. Take a Class
One option is to take a part-time Chinese class. You can find many different Chinese classes that meet once, twice or three times a week. Usually these classes are in downtown Taipei. I studied before at the Mandarin Language Center near Da’an park and learned quite a lot. It was great to study in a class environment when I literally knew zero Chinese. It felt less intimidating.
Just show up and learn, don’t worry about the schedule.
Make friends who are also learning Chinese.
- Bad —-
Wasted time & money: traveling time could be long, cost of subway to and from class adds up.
You can easily ‘coast’ in a big group of students.
Not a lot of individual attention.
2. Hire a Tutor
If you think the classroom is not for you, you can learn Chinese from a qualified tutor in a comfortable coffee shop. You can conduct your search in two ways: contact tutors on TEALIT, or post an ad in the "Tutors of Chinese Wanted" section and tutors will contact you. I would recommend posting an ad and then tutors will contact you. You should specify where & when you want to meet and how much you are willing to pay.
The average tutor price is NT$300 an hour. The first meeting with the tutor is usually free and just a general meet & greet. Don’t be afraid to give it a try! I really enjoy learning Chinese from my tutor even though I was a bit hesitant in the beginning.
+ Good +++
Individual attention: no hiding in a big group, forced to participate.
Choice: you get to choose location, the tutor and what time you meet.
- Bad —-
Accountability: You have to go every class or communicate with your tutor about missing classes (hey this is more a ‘good’ thing than a bad thing!)
3. Do Language Exchange
You can also learn Chinese and make friends through a “language exchange” (LE). Basically a LE is where two people help each other practice and learn each other’s native language. The Taiwanese person will help you practice Chinese and the foreigner will help them practice English.
I met some really cool people in Korea doing language exchange. It is a great way to meet friends and learn Chinese but also very time consuming. The ‘quality’ of the LE can vary a lot too. I find it helps to make things very clear in the beginning about what you wish to accomplish in the LE and what they expect from you.
Be careful about LE’s because some are really just looking to date foreigners under the guise of LE. It’s also true of some foreigners who do LE.
Labor insurance is something that every Taiwanese citizen gets. It includes maternity benefits, disability benefits, employment insurance and old age benefits. Here are all the benefits of labor insurance.
Just so we are clear: Labor insurance is different than health insurance.
It sounds pretty awesome though, doesn’t it?
So who can get labor insurance?
Unfortunately it’s only legally required to be given to you if you work at a company with at least 5 employees and if you are married to a Taiwanese citizen.
This means, if you are are single or work at a small company you aren’t legally required to have this benefit. It doesn’t mean you can’t get it though.
You can ask to be enrolled in labor insurance but your employer can say no. It’s only a voluntary requirement for your employer if you fall into this bracket.
I’m married on a sponsored ARC but I don’t have labor insurance. What do I do?
You can ask your company and they will probably enroll you in the program. If they don’t, complain to the Bureau of Labor Insurance.
Your employer will probably pretend they didn’t know you were married to avoid the fine from the government but then will enroll you in the program anyways because it’s the law.
What about Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) holders?
I’m not sure if it’s legally required to be given to holder of an APRC. When I called I didn’t ask about that. Anybody else know anything about that?
I guess you could say that these are my most frequently used apps, or the ones I need to access the quickest. As you can see, most of the screen is taken up by photo taking apps.
I really enjoy taking photos with the iPhone 4. The quality is so good and I ALWAYS have it in my pocket. I think that’s the most important thing about taking photos, to have your damn camera with you!
Anyways here are my main apps. Hopefully you find a few you like.
1. Messages It’s a the default SMS app. Unfortunately not many friends are on WhatsApp so I still need to keep this handy for work.
2. Clock I don’t own an alarm clock so I use this to make sure I wake up on time. Another handy function of this app is in my teaching. I sometimes do speed games where I time my students to see how fast they can read, or use it as a timer for activities in class.
3. Photos I need to keep this handy to check out my awesome photos. It’s even more useful now that I can crop images with this app.
4. Camera+($0.99USD) The BEST iPhone camera application! You really don’t need any other camera/filter apps. You take photos in the app, they are stored in the app’s “Lightroom”. Then you can apply filters, frames and crop the images before you save them to your Camera Roll. It’s must faster to take photos in Camera+ than the default Camera app because the photos aren’t saved directly to the Camera Roll (unless you like that, it’s an option in the settings).
5. Maps Without GPS I don’t think I’d be able to find anything in Taipei! I really need this when finding bars in Taiwan because they are always in dark little alleys with confusing Chinese street signs. If you are in Taiwan, make sure you always search for addresses using the Chinese address because the English address may or may not be in the correct location on the map.
6. Calvetica($2.99USD) I really like the interface of this program. Ｉ can see my whole schedule for the whole month at a glance. I make heavy use of the reminders function where I can set reminders to beep at me 2 hours before or even 1 week before. I don’t know about you but it’s easy to forget appointments you made a while back.
7. Calculator For those really important life decisions at Costco like which toilet paper package to buy: 24 rolls for NT$500 or 12 rolls for NT$300. It’s all about the price per unit!
8. Hipstamatic($1.99USD) Sometimes I enjoy just letting go and taking crazy ‘artsy’ photos with Hipstamatic. I love the look and feel of the interface. I you like Lomo and toy cameras you will like this app too. The app is kinda like shooting with an analogue camera because you don’t really know the outcome until the photo is “developed”. I use the random shooting mode by shaking it to choose a random film and lens. Sometimes I get art, other times I get crap but I always have fun!
9. Music My savior during those long rides on the Taipei Metro. I have my iPhone set to sync with a few Smart Lists on my iTunes so I constantly have fresh music to listen to on the go.
10. Pulse News(Free) Reading news on websites is frustrating, slow and filled with ads. I read all my news through this program. It’s like a RSS reader.
11. Things($9.99 USD) I need to write down my ideas immediately or they may be gone forever. This is my to-do list program. It has a lot of amazing features that you can read about for yourself. It seems pricey but the productivity I have gotten out of it has made it worth it for me.
12. Camera Sometimes I need to quickly capture a photo and not fool around with filters or anything. Camera gets it done.
13. Mail I access all Gmail account here. Faster and better interface than the official Gmail app in my opinion.
14. Taipei Metro(Free) Great program to figure out how long it’ll take to go from Danshui to Taipei Main Station on the Taipei Metro. I like that I can find the closest metro station to me using GPS. Technology is pretty amazing.
15. Pleco(Free - Basic version) My Chinese dictionary. It doesn’t need internet to look-up words so it’s faster than Google Translate. I bought some upgrades so I sometimes use it for practicing flashcards on the subway too!
17. Phone So apparently some people still use phones for talking. I occasionally get calls from my employer and random people with this app. I rarely use my phone as an actually phone though, so strange to say.
18. Safari The internet is one of those amazing things you can’t believe previous generations lived without. Before internet people had to look in actual encyclopedias. Crazy huh?
19. Facebook(Free) I don’t really need to explain this one. Now when you meet people, you don’t get their phone numbers, you add them on Facebook. If you don’t have Facebook your social life will suffer immensely and you may never get laid.
20. WhatsApp($0.99USD) This app works on Blackberry, iPhone and Android so it’s easy to connect with people. It has a clever name and great interface. International text messaging rates were killing me so I convinced my family in Canada to buy this app so we could communicate. I can send people my GPS location, a photo and of course text messages. I have sent over 5000 messages with this app. One of the best features is that it automatically scans your Contact list and lists people who have the app. There is no need to remember who has the program!
I showed you mine, now show me yours. What does YOUR phone home screen look like?
The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (加拿大駐台北貿易辦事處) is the embassy for Canadians living and working in Taiwan. You can go here to renew your passport, get documents notarized and find out more about marriage in Taiwan.
If you are a Canadian living in Taiwan, you should Register as a Canadian Living Abroad. In case of an emergency, the Canadian authorities will know where to find you and how to keep you informed. If you need to be evacuated from Taiwan they will know to save a seat on the plane for you too!
Hey! We saw your picture on tealit and wanted to ask you if you are interesting in earning some extra money. The payment can be negotiated. The job might sound weird but it is really not. It is to have someone worship your feet.
Alright, I have to say right off the bat this is the weirdest job I have ever been offered. I was intrigued, bored and curious so I thought I should investigate this “opportunity”.
It could turn out to be really awesome because they would pay me to have girls massage my feet, or I could be raped and end up dead in a dumpster somewhere.
After some debate I cautiously answered…
So you are guys or girls? How many people? Where would you do this? I’m assuming it can’t be done at a coffee shop. What things do you want to do to my feet?
I’m open to trying new things.
After a short while I got a response.
foot lick guy
Our company provides only male servent. We would probably take the service to your place. There is only one person at a time. We will give you a relaxing foot massage first then you can lay back on the sofa having your feet cleaned.
Having a foot massage doesn’t sound too bad. Oh wait, it’s by a "male servant" and it’s at my house. I’m curious how they will clean my feet with a toothbrush or their tongue? Eww.
I decide this job is not really for me. I’m not interested in having "foot licking" strangers come to my house so I politely decline.
Thanks but not interested in having it at my place.
Thanks for the offer!
Well these people must really be desperate because they respond to me again.
foot lick guy
How about having it at our place.
Comfortable and cozy! :)
They are really persistent! So I keep playing along like I’m sort of interested in the job and ask for more details.
Yeah that might work,
Where’s the place? When do you need people? What’s the pay?
The responses are getting shorter now. Maybe they realize I’m not serious about foot licking?
foot lick guy
The place is at Zhuwei. We need people on weekends. How about 200 per hour?
Holy crap! The plot thickens now. This is near my house. I could’ve walked by these ‘foot lick’ guys on my way to the grocery store. That’s pretty creepy. NOTE: $200/hr is 200 New Taiwan dollars. NT$200 = about $6.50 USD.
Ah. Thanks for the details but I’m not interested at this time.
I’m quite busy on the weekends and the pay is not that attractive for me.
Thanks for your time!
So that’s the story about how I almost got my feet licked in Taiwan.
What’s the strangest job you have ever been offered?
So once you get tired of putting all your money under your mattress, you decide it’s finally time to get a bank account. Before you start, make sure you have an Alien Registration Card (ARC) and your passport. Don’t even bother trying to open an account without your ARC! They won’t do it no matter how many other ID cards you give them. Believe me I’ve tried twice unsuccessfully.
Which bank to use?
It’s mostly a matter of personal preference because they all offer roughly the same services. You may be forced to get a specific bank account for your work. Each company makes some sort of devil pact with the bank and forces all their employees to use the same bank. I already have 5 bank accounts after only being here for 2 years.
I recommend getting a ChinaTrust account for two reasons: they have ATMs inside most 7-11 branches and they open until 7pm whereas most banks close at 3:30pm.
I also recommend getting a Mega International Commercial Bank account as they have some branches in other countries. MegaBank also allows you to have a foreign currency account to save your money from abroad that you brought. If they have a branch in your home city it’s also very easy to transfer money back and forth.
What do you need to setup a bank account?
Alien Registration Card (ARC)
NT$1000 for an initial deposit.
How to setup the account?
If you speak Chinese, then it’s probably so easy for you. If you don’t speak Chinese it’s even easier to setup a bank account because they will fill in 99% of the paperwork for you! You will need to sign your name a bunch of times, write your name a few times (remember last name first!) and answer some basic questions.
They will ask you questions about what you want: do you want an ATM card? the ability to transfer money from the ATM machine? do you want internet banking?
They may not ask you and just setup everything for you anyways. Later on you could get your kind Chinese friend or lover to help you figure out finer details.
Some banks will give you your ATM card right away and others will require you to come back in a week to pick it up. Yes, it’s very annoying I know!
General Banking Information:
You can only have one account at each bank. Forget about having one account at a bank for savings and one as your chequing account.
You cannot get a joint account with your wife/husband.
Taiwan banks don’t use cheques.
Fees for using another bank’s ATM are NT$5-7
Opening a bank account is free.
Major Banks in Taiwan:
ChinaTrust - ATMs in most 7 Eleven’s, open until 7pm